These ideas won't make the cut
Clearwater City leaders have made clear that they anticipate significant budget cuts in 2007-08 and are seeking advice. But the City Council has already made clear there are some things they just won't do.
By MIKE DONILA
Published May 9, 2007
Recommendation: Limit pay raises to 3 percent.
Council: Some union contracts prevent this and it also hurts Clearwater's ability to recruit.
Recommendation: Freeze or cap the city's contribution to health insurance and consider a co-pay program.
Council: Some union contracts also prevents this. And it would hamper recruitment, the city adds.
Recommendation: Cap increased spending on operations to inflation plus 1 percent.
Council: Each year brings its own challenges, like the BeachWalk initiative, and a cap would remove flexibility and hamstring future councils.
Recommendation: Consider buyouts for those eligible for retirement.
Council: Officials say it would take a "pretty significant" plan to encourage employees to leave, but would consider buyouts to jobs targeted for cuts.
Recommendation: Limit take-home vehicles to those who live inside the county and do not use them as perks.
Council: City would lose another recruiting tool, but may create a 20-mile take-home radius.
Recommendation: Review the management-to-staff ratio in departments, particularly for fire where task force members felt the ratio is inconsistent to nearby cities.
Council: Reviews are done annually, and the city says fire "falls somewhere in the middle" compared to other cities.
Recommendation: Create a volunteer firefighting program at certain stations.
Council: The city says training costs would offset any major savings and that Clearwater is "beyond the point of having" a volunteer fire department. Also, the city says it wants firefighters "trained at the highest level."